Spiderman 2

Recommended for it’s morality, but not so much for it’s story. I say this because, like the first movie, this one reaffirms the traditional notion of heroism and moral character. For this, I applaud. The problem is that it is very preachy and it is done within a predictable typical comicbook movie plot. How many times am I going to see another “growing ball of energy that is going to destroy New York.” Maybe I’m being too nitpicky because you gotta go exaggerated for comic books. But I guess that stuff is just boring to me. Big FX effects and wild action are boring compared to the personal emotional and spiritual conflict. Now, this movie has that personal angst. In fact, it has it OVERKILL. Too much of a good thing, as they say. This one reiterates the excellent theme of the first movie, that with great power comes great responsibility. Problem is, they spell that phrase out a couple more times in this movie as a way to pound it into our heads. And if that isn’t enough, Peter tells his aunt the whole backstory that we already saw in the first movie where he passes by the criminal who kills his uncle. And then has a vision of talking with his dead uncle in heaven, or at least, somewhere in the ether. This is all just too much. I liked Petey explaining to the aunt, but everything else was too much corn. The other problem I have is that I don’t think you should have the same moral or theme in both movies. That becomes redundant and derivative. The Matrix had it right at least in this aspect, that the first movie was all about questioning reality. Instead of repeating that theme, in the second movie, they focused on a new and equally thoughtful theme, that of freedom and determinism. Another cool theme in Spidey 2 was, as Aunty says, “Sometimes, to do what’s right, you have to give up the thing you love most, even our dreams.” Very powerful and pure. Peter has to give up a normal life with rest, a girlfriend, and any time to himself, if he is going to do good. Another cool theme was that heros are examples for us of courage and self sacrifice, and that we all have the capacity for being heros, not just extraordinary men. Problem is, Aunty has to spell this out to us in a two page monologue to Peter, where she preaches, “There’s a hero in all of us. Heros are examples for us of self sacrifice and courage.” The delivery was just too pedagogical, too on the nose, “this is the moral lesson of the story.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe in strong moral themes, and like I said, I like Spiderman for it. But you know, Christians are always getting lambasted for “preaching” their moral messages in films, for spelling out what we are supposed to learn. And they are flippantly condescended to as prosletyzers. Hey, I’ve criticized them myself for such pedagogy! Well, what’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. I want to hear those same criticisms objectively applied to a Hollywood movie guilty of the same thing. This theme of finding the hero in each of us is further extrapolated by the concept of the consequences of our choice. If we choose to do the right thing, then we will become the hero, if we choose the wrong, we become less capable of such heroism. As Auntey concludes in her preachy sermon to Peter, “It’s wrong that we should be half ourselves.” That is why Peter starts to lose his spider powers. Because the more he struggles with wanting to be normal, wanting to NOT save the world, wanting to just have his own life, unhindered by the problems of others, the more he loses his spider powers that help him to save others, in other words, his inner heroism decreases the more self oriented he becomes. The more his personal sense of identity is confused, the less able he is to help others. The more he feeds the self, the less capable of heroism he becomes. Again, this is a tremendous moral, but it just seems a bit too contrived to the original story. I thought his powers came first and with those powers came responsibility. Now his responsibility comes first and then he gets his powers after. Oh, you mean I too can be a Spiderman, if I just CHOOSE to do right? Ah ha! Again, true, good and beautiful, but again, not as intrinsic to the reality, so it doesn’t hit me emotionally or spiritually. Okay, okay, I forgive them, because they had good intent. It’s just not as powerful to affect me because even though the theme rings true to our humanity, it does not ring true to the story. But hey, it’s just a comic book movie, so give ‘em some slack. I gotta say that I really thought the scene in the first movie where Spiderman holds an entire cable car with his web was just so ludicrous that it turned me off. Yet, I think I have found a scene to match that ludicrous in the sequel. When Spiderman must stop the runaway train by spinning webs to hold the car back and sticking his feet in the ground to stop the car. You know, Spiderman is NOT Superman, okay? There has to be some limit to his strength and invulnerability. Sticking his feet into train track studs while going 60 or 70 miles an hour in a multiple ton train car would snap his legs right off. And holding onto the webs to stop the train like a slingshot would rip his arms off. Now I can accept a little bit of exaggeration for a movie, but when you go ridiculous just cause you have to top other stuff, then you create this kind of outlandish absurdity. And then, when Spiderman is so exhausted he can’t fight Doc Oc on the train, the people carry his body over their heads in a Christ pose. You know, they should outlaw that analogy in film. It was original when they did it in Cool Hand Luke 30 years ago, but it’s been done to death. Please don’t resurrect it! – no matter how good the intentions.

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